Welcome to the Prairies Edge Farm website and podcast. You can find us online at prairiesedgefarm.com and on social media at facebook.com/prairiesedgedairy. If you are in the Wilmer, Minnesota area and would like to try some certified organic whole raw milk, farm fresh cream or skim milk, be sure to check out our website’s contact page for contact information. Don’t forget, we also sell grass fed, grass finished Highland beef and soy free pork. Here is Carol’s latest update.
Hi. This is Carol with Prairie’s Edge Organic Dairy. And this is The Small Dairy Podcast. And today I am going to talk about keeping a Scottish Highland cow as a family cow or a homestead cow.
I have actually milked a full blood registered highland cow. Her name was Hannah, and I milked her because my cow Daisy was producing like five gallons of milk a day and she’s feeding a bunch of calves. I started selling raw milk and I didn’t have enough to supply my customers. And so instead of going out and buying another cow, we just went into our beef herd and we happened to be raising Highlander Scottish Highlander cattle at the time. And we pulled Hannah off a pasture and brought her in with her calf just to see how she’d milk.
We knew that she had been a show cow in her younger years because she was about eight or nine at this time and she was already halter broke. And so we slapped a halter on her, brought her into the barn and started milking her. And she did just beautifully.
The only problem I had with her is that she had to have her calf at her side or by her head in order for her to milk. She gave me about a gallon and a half to two gallons a day. Once a day. We pulled the calf in the evening and calf shared that way. I milked her in the morning along with Daisy, and I tell you that she was such a smart cow, she learned very, very quick that if you get to the barn first, you get milked first and you get treats first. And she would literally race my jersey to the barn, and she usually won. It did not take her long at all to learn they’re very, very smart animals.
I milked her. She milked for about six, seven months, and then she weaned me and she weaned her calf. And that was that. We were done and that was okay. We had caught up with our supply and we were okay with that. My experience with milking a full blood Highlander was excellent. Her milk tasted delicious. She didn’t milk tons for me, so I didn’t have another cow milk in five gallons a day for me, and it worked. And so I would highly recommend it.
Currently, I don’t milk any full blood Highlanders simply because they don’t really work very well in our barn.
We milk in a pit parlor, and so my cows have to line up, and having a Highlander in there with big horns just does not work. My dairy herd has been dehorned or is naturally pulled, and so that we don’t deal with horns, that is probably the only reason I don’t bring Highlanders in. I do have crosses that are crossed into my dairy, so I have a couple of cows that are Jersey Highland crosses, and they’ve been dehorned because we know that we’re going to keep them in the dairy herd. And so they do not have horns.
Honestly, they make a really nice family cow. They don’t milk five to eight gallons of milk a day, which most families don’t need that much milk. That’s a lot of milk. Their milk tastes just as good as the Jerseys. They have a nice cream line. They have a higher percentage of butter fat.
The only disadvantage, I would say is they’re very hairy. So if you are hand milking, you need to get over the fact that you’re probably going to have hair in your milk and horns.
If you have a Highland cow that has horns, you do need to be comfortable with this horned animal. Other than that, they are excellent. They don’t always milk a full lactation like a dairy cow does. But still, I mean, I had Hannah milk for me for like, six to seven months.
I have Lucy in my herd currently, and she milked for me for about, let’s see, she milked about seven months for me. She’s currently dry, and she will be calving in the fall, which she’s a little overdue. We didn’t get her bread on time, so she’s calving in the fall. So she’s just being a dry cow right now. And she actually is really a good milker. She’s a Jersey Highland cross, and she milks for me without pushing her on 100% grass. She was milking for her first lactation. She was milking over three gallons a day for me. No calf on her, but that’s pretty good for a first heifer and being half beef. So I’m excited to see how she does this next season or this next lactation.
I have sold a few Highland Jersey crosses to families, and they are all very pleased with their animals.
They’re great moms, and they do a good job. They enjoy fostering. If you want to a nurse cow, they’re excellent for a nurse cow. Let’s see, anything else I want to talk about? They they calve with ease. That’s that’s always nice. They have a smaller calf.
Our Highland calves out here probably weigh 30 lbs, not that our Jerseys are much bigger than that. And they’re so cute.
Oh, my gosh. A highland calf is cute. A Highland Jersey calf is adorable. They keep that Highland longer hair look. And sometimes you get the little Jersey head the size of a Jersey head with the characteristics of the Highland cow or the Highland breed, and they’re just so dang cute.
But I would highly recommend it. I would not shy away from one if you were offered one or you had the opportunity to buy one, as long as you’re okay with a hairy horned animal being your family milk cow, they’re wonderful. They’re very personal cows. If you get one that has been bottle fed or bottle raised, they are in your pocket type cows. They enjoy humans. They love to be brushed. Highlands are really low key animals.
If they’re used to being around humans, they are maybe not quite as cute as a Jersey, because I really do love my Jerseys, but Highland is a very personable cow and can make a really great family cow and pet. So I highly recommend them.
If you have any questions about them, please feel free to email me off of our website, which is prairiesedgefarm.com.
You can leave comments on Prairies Edge Organic Dairy on Facebook and on Instagram.
You can message me on any of those platforms, and I would be happy to answer your questions.
I’m happy to mentor you. If you need help and you have a Highland and you want to milk it and you want some pointers, I am more than happy to help talk you through that and help you learn your cow. Just enjoy having a family cow, whether it’s Highland, a Highland Cross, a Jersey, Brown, Swiss, whatever it is. You really want to enjoy your cow and have a really nice experience with a family cow, and I think I’ll end that.
I can hear my dog barking in the background. I need to go tend him.
So once again, thank you for joining me on the Small Dairy podcast, and we’ll see you next time.
Thank you for listening. Again, if you would like to try some certified organic whole raw milk, farm fresh cream, or skim milk, let Carol know. We also offer grass fed, grass finished premium Highland ground beef as well as soy free pork.